Lord Howe Island — widely regarded as the most beautiful island in the Pacific — is the closest island getaway to Sydney. It’s less than two hours flying from either Sydney or Brisbane off Australia's east coast. It is one of just four island groups to be inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list for the global significance of its natural beauty and heritage.

It’s a timeless natural paradise, where the pace is relaxed but where there are plenty of activities and adventures to choose from. Unspoiled, uncrowded beaches — with perfect golden sands — entice surfers, swimmers and sybarites.

The crystal lagoon is bordered by the world’s most southerly coral reef. Just wander in off the beach to snorkel among colourful tropical and sub-tropical fish, turtles and other marine life. Or head further off-shore to SCUBA dive on world-class sites. The water is so clean and clear, it’s like swimming in an aquarium.

Families love the safety and variety of kids’ activities; lovers find romance in the island’s secluded corners, natural beauty, luxury lodges and fine dining establishments.

For adventurers, there are bushwalks and more strenuous hikes, including Mt Gower, rated as one of the world’s best day walks. And to ease tired muscles, there is a choice of spa treatments.

To set foot on Lord Howe Island is to escape to a pristine environment, where you'll be met with friendly hospitality and the kind of holiday experience that you'll never want to leave.

Location                600km (373 miles) east of the Australian mainland
                                31°33'S, 159°05'E
Land Area             56 km² (22 sq mi) 11km long and 2km wide at the widest point
Highest point        * Mount Gower 875 m (2,870 ft)
Demographics     * Population: 350 permanent residents
                                * Tourists are restricted to 400 at any one time
                                * World Heritage Listed 1982
                                * Declared a State Marine Park 1998
                                * Declared a Commonwealth Marine Park 1999

Lord Howe Island is a remnant of a now-extinct shield volcano, dating back 7 million years. Eleven kilometres (six miles) long and 2km (1 mile) wide at its widest point, the island has been eroded to one-fortieth its original size. Its crescent shape embraces a sheltered lagoon and the southernmost coral reef on the planet.

The Lord Howe Island Group was World Heritage listed in 1982 in recognition of its outstanding natural beauty and its exceptional biodiversity. Two thirds of the island is a Permanent Park Preserve. The surrounding waters were declared a Marine Park in 1998.

Lord Howe Island is considered to be an outstanding example of an island ecosystem developed from submarine volcanic activity, having a rare diversity of landscapes, flora and fauna (both marine and terrestrial). The high proportion of endemic species provides a superb illustration of independent evolutionary processes at work.

The island has over 130 species of bird; the sheltering coral reef hosts over 500 species of fish and 90 different corals. The reef is in pristine condition, washed by the cleanest ocean on the planet.

The Lord Howe Island Board and the Islanders themselves go to considerable lengths to preserve their Paradise, with comprehensive recycling programs; a tourist bed limit; and environmental management plans.

In fact, Lord Howe is one of the ‘cleanest’ places on earth: located 600km from the nearest large land mass, there is no air or sea pollution and you’ll find no litter. Neds Beach was declared Australia’s Cleanest Beach in 2004.